Data is the fuel of mobility. Don’t spill it for nothing

data idea.jpeg

(Franki Chamaki, Unsplash)

This article is brought to you thanks to the collaboration of The European Sting with the World Economic Forum.

Author: Mouchka Heller, Project Manager, Seamless Integrated Mobility System, World Economic Forum & Maya Ben Dror, Lead, Autonomous and Urban Mobility, Centre for the Fourth Industrial Revolution of the World Economic Forum


In spite of its ubiquity, “data” is still an intimidating, catch-all word for many of us who realise our daily online footprint feeds the small and big machines of everyday life. Even when we use online maps, order rides, rent bikes and scooters, and commute while using these mobility apps, our location and time stamp is collected. In some parts of the world, it might even be collected as we wait patiently at the light of a particularly busy intersection or get on a bus; in the future, autonomous vehiles might “eye” everything within and around them, including us.

The information our data is providing holds the key to a new mobility future, be it public- or private sector-led. It helps determine the right number of trains at rush hour, or the right location for a bike dock that helps us move more effortlessly. “Data” is almost a code name for the promise of a world that can become truly efficient and seamless, and can make our lives much better – if used by the right entities in the right way.

A mobile world

Mobility is a key part of this promise. A new mobility future is about more than moving from point A to point B; it is about everyone being able to get to their dream job, getting the kids safely to school, being able to squeeze in the gym on the way, and making doctor’s appointments on time. But this vision will not be realized easily for everyone; accommodating different physical and mental needs, those of the young and lower socio-economic classes, to name a few, will require a concerted effort. Mobility’s toll on public resources such as street space, air quality and global warming would also need to be addressed before it can offer true sustainability to our cities.

Well, if you have data on local average household income, on the cost of insurance, and cars and gas prices, you can start by figuring out the actual footprint of mobility on society. Then if you have data on public transit routes, route performance (including delays, cancellations and accidents), and stations for micro-mobility solutions, you can know whether more sustainable and effective alternatives are available. By overlaying this information with more data on where hospitals, fresh produce, schools, large employers and parks would be, we could increase the outreach of sustainable and more affordable mobility options. Finally, by becoming a champion of the open data movement, like London and Helsinki, a city could combine user information with data from private mobility providers, then allowing mobility users to negotiate the perfect commute for them and the greater good.

Given the number of possibilities, it is no surprise that cities around the world have become one of the driving forces in data-driven mobility solutions. Many have already started to develop standardized requests for data from mobility-service providers, including New York City and Los Angeles. Finland has possibly developed the new era of data regulation the furthest so far through the Act on Transport Services, which mandates open software standards for essential data for all stakeholders, and ticketing and payment for all passenger-transport service providers. The aim of the act is to enable user-centric mobility services for all, while also aiming to guarantee a level playing field for all stakeholders and more complete intelligence throughout the whole transport system.

But the question begs: are our cities ready for the potential data they can access? Lack of personnel and ability to compete in this regard with the private sector poses a key challenge. This is one reason why the private sector has come in to fill in a lot of the gaps in terms of designing, developing and launching data-driven solutions for the mobility sector. There is a cost to this contribution, though: the data gathered to make new products and solutions work, and optimize existing infrastructure, comes with a high price tag. In fact, datasets can be bought, rented, sold or shared for commercial purposes. Can they guide us to a sustainable travel future?

How should your data drive sustainable new mobility?

The price tag put on all this data is no more than a guess. A guess of what us, the users, are willing to trade in. Data is a financial asset that does not yet have a mature pricing framework that includes the many externalities of travel – the societal, economic and environmental spillovers of mobility. It is incumbent on all of us – the users, the individuals – to make an informed decision about the value that should be assigned to our data. The decision to include factors that have failed to be folded into current mobility costs: air quality and resulting health risks, street space and the resulting depletion in quality of life, climate change and resulting threats to mankind, to name a few.

In 2014, a qualitative study offered a cookie to any stranger walking down a New York street in exchange for personal information like date of birth, a copy of their driver’s license, or an address. Three hundred and eighty individuals traded in their personal information for a cookie that day. Over half agreed to have their picture taken, and 117 people allowed the researcher to take their fingerprints. The researcher did not even provide a reason for asking for the information. Are we any more educated and ready to have a global conversation, five years later?

 

The proposition with which we are now presented is not exactly a cookie. If you knew that the collective value of mobility data generated by the swiping of our fingertips could translate into a life-changing profit for the public good, reduce carbon emissions significantly, or give a baby access to healthcare, would you give yours up? Don’t answer just yet and take a minute to understand what you are giving up, and what you should have a right to expect in return. Then practice until you are back in the driver’s seat.

the sting Milestones

Featured Stings

Can we feed everyone without unleashing disaster? Read on

These campaigners want to give a quarter of the UK back to nature

How to build a more resilient and inclusive global system

Stopping antimicrobial resistance would cost just USD 2 per person a year

The 28 EU leaders show contempt for the European Elections results

The 100-year climate catastrophe of Mont Blanc

COVID-19 will accelerate the revolution in energy systems

Conflict prevention, mediation: among ‘most important tools’ to reduce human suffering, Guterres tells Security Council

How to build a digital infrastructure that benefits emerging economies

NextGenerationEU: European Commission gearing up for issuing €250 billion of NextGenerationEU green bonds

AI looks set to disrupt the established world order. Here’s how

Shenzhen just made all its buses electric, and taxis are next

OECD Secretary-General: coronavirus “war” demands joint action

Laws must protect, ‘not reject’ says UNAIDS chief on Zero Discrimination Day

JADE Spring Meeting 2015- Europe’s Junior Entrepreneurs together for 4 days of networking, workshops and forward thinking

A day in the life of a refugee: why should we care?

Decades of progress ‘can be wiped out overnight,’ UN chief laments at climate session in Yokohama

Coronavirus response: Team Europe support to Sudan through EU Humanitarian Air Bridge flight

Mandela, ‘true symbol of human greatness’, celebrated on centenary of his birth

The water where baby fish are outnumbered 7 to 1 by plastic

EU Summit’s major takeaway: a handkerchief cannot save Greece from austerity

Coronavirus: 23 new research projects to receive €128 million in EU funding

South-South Cooperation ‘accelerates’ us toward 2030 goals, UN Chief says on International Day

Back to the future: flying cars are becoming a reality

Peacekeeping chief honours Tanzanian troops in Zanzibar, a year on from deadly DR Congo attacks

UN Human Rights Council resolution on youth and human rights: a step forward for youth rights

Who holds the key to the future of biotechnology? You do

Human trafficking: stronger measures to protect women, children and migrants

We need to rethink the way we heat ourselves. Here’s why

The US and EU decisively oppose Erdogan’s plans for Turkey and beyond

Social Committee slams the 28 EU leaders for false promises

Antitrust: Commission imposes interim measures on Broadcom in TV and modem chipset markets

This is the most popular type of home in Europe right now

European Super League: Why more football is an imperfect solution to sport’s business model problem

Here are 5 of the biggest threats to our oceans, and how we can solve them

Promoting Primary Health Care to the Young Health Workforce: a new approach

Antitrust: Commission opens investigation into possible anticompetitive behaviour by the power exchange EPEX Spot

The European Council takes more measures to stem illegal migration

These floating homes could protect people from flooding as sea levels rise

5 ocean success stories to chase away the blues

State aid: the Commission authorises the regulatory mechanism for the storage of natural gas in France

Tsipras bewildered with Berlin’s humiliating demands; ECB expects political sign to refinance the Greek banks

Greenpeace’s saints and sinners in the tech world

Commission launches new edition of the Cultural and Creative Cities Monitor 2019

No way out for Eurozone’s stagnating economy

10 ways central banks are experimenting with blockchain

How to solve COVID’s crew change crisis and protect global supply chains

Mali just took a huge step towards universal healthcare

Ministers for Youth miss the opportunity to improve social inclusion of young people

Progress on gender equality is too slow, says OECD on International Women’s Day

This weather index measures climate-related risks. Here’s how

Road safety: Europe’s roads are getting safer but progress remains too slow

EU budget: Boosting cooperation between tax and customs authorities for a safer and more prosperous EU

MWC 2016 LIVE: Intel focuses on 5G “beyond the Powerpoint”

5 lessons for the future of universities

Password managers aren’t all they’re cracked up to be. Here’s why

Big world banks to pay $ 4.95bn for cheating customers; Is it a punishment or a gentle caress?

This is why mental health should be a political priority

EU-China relations under investigation?

Climate change adaptation: MEPs want the EU to be better prepared

Does the West play the Syrian game in Egypt?

Air pollution: Most EU Member States not on track to reduce air pollution and its related health impacts by 2030

Can collective action cure what’s ailing our food systems?

Technology: The new face of Medicine

More Stings?

Speak your Mind Here

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s